If you’ve had breast cancer, your risk of developing melanoma is up to 2.58x greater than normal.
Females with melanoma have an up to 1.4x greater chance of developing breast cancer.
If you have the BRCA2 gene, as a breast cancer survivor this substantially increases your risk of melanoma.
If you have the CDKN2A gene, as a melanoma survivor this increases your risk of breast cancer.
Female breast cancer survivors were 16% more likely to develop cutaneous melanoma than women who have not had breast cancer.
Female melanoma survivors had an 11% increased risk of being diagnosed with breast cancer as second cancers.
"Among young [breast cancer] patients, we observed a 46% elevated risk of a second [cutaneous melanoma]. Women who underwent radiation therapy exhibited a 42% increased risk for [cutaneous melanoma].”
The study also found that patients with a mutated BRCA2 gene, which increases risk for developing breast cancer, and those with a mutation on the melanoma susceptibility gene, CDKN2A, are both more likely to develop the other cancers compared to those without these gene mutations.
"The skin is the largest organ of your body and is the most vulnerable to DNA damage caused by the sun’s ultraviolet rays.” - Breastcancer.org
Everyone, especially survivors should conduct regular self-exams of the skin and breasts, schedule annual mammograms, and annual scanning by your dermatologist.
Everyone should consider lifestyle changes like quitting smoking, maintaining a healthy weight, exercising regularly and minimizing alcohol intake to help reduce breast cancer risk.
We need to monitor our skin monthly and do regular self-skin checks in addition to annual visits to a dermatologist.
Increase your skin awareness to chemical exposure - start with reading the labels of your cosmetics, lotions, sunscreens and clothing you wear.
- Cosmetic and lotion ingredients known to be toxic causing hormone disruption or to be carcinogenic such as but not limited to: phthalates, parabens, sodium laureth sulfate (SLES) and sodium lauryl sulfate (SLS), triclosan, synthetic fragrance and Chemical UV filters like Octinoxate and Oxybenzone.
- Ingredients in deodorants known to be toxic and cause reproductive harm include: parabens, triclosan, phthalates, propylene glycol and aluminum.
Thoughts: The green/detoxed beauty movement is here to stay and there are now many cosmetics and lotions formulated without or fewer hormone disruptors at different price points. Natural deodorants and anti-perspirants without aluminum - this is a tough one for men and women alike! I personally keep several in the drawer. I use a non-aluminum formula as often as possible (currently loving Farmacy Freshen Up). Acknowledge there is a lot of trial and error in this category and set a goal to decrease the usage frequency of aluminum in your deodorant a few times a week.
What to avoid in sunscreens:
- Chemical sunscreens especially with ingredients like Octinoxate and Oxybenzone
(Sunscreen adds up - quantity and cost - if you consider that you’re supposed to wear it every day and reapply it every two hours!)
What to avoid in clothing:
- Avoiding chemicals in clothing is a challenge so my recommendation is to increase your awareness about the textile industry and the impact this has to the unsuspecting consumer.
- NRDC and REACH are both focused on reducing pollution and restricting chemicals in the textile process. OEKO-TEX certification means products are tested free of more than 360 chemicals commonly found and are rated safe for prolonged, direct contact on skin.
According to dermatologists, the #1 recommendation for managing the sun and your skin is to wear sun protective clothing. A rating of UPF 50+ means more than 98% of harmful UV rays are blocked.
Note, UV rays happen year round, they are not seasonal. 80% of UV rays can penetrate through cloud cover, and reflect off water and snow.
- In addition to early detection, there’s a lot you can do to manage your exposure to chemicals and sunlight in the environment.
- Survivors of breast cancer need to be meticulous about sun protection.
- Folks with a history of melanoma need to maintain frequent self-checks for breast and skin changes.
The investment in chemical free products and UV blocking clothing as preventative measures is worth it because healthy skin is essential for your health.
Melanoma and Breast Cancer Link, advancedderm.com
Archives of Dermatology: Arch Dermatol. 2011;147(12):1395 1402. doi:10.1001/archdermatol.2011.1133. Geoffrey B. Yang, BS; Jill S. Barnholdtz Sloan, PhD; Yanwen Chen, PhD; et all
Malignant melanoma and breast carcinoma: a bidirectional correlation, NCBI.NLM.NIH.gov
Breast Cancer and Increased Melanoma Risk – What you need to know if you’ve had breast cancer By Jennifer Garrick, FNP-BC DCNP, vanguardskin.com
Top 15 Toxic Ingredients to Avoid in Cosmetics, thegoodfaceproject.com
Understanding REACH, echa.europa.eu/regulations
Get articles like this, plus product updates and sale notifications delivered to your inbox: